User Diary

Published on June 9, 2019 by

Themes: , , , ,


To gather in-depth information about users’ needs


User diaries is a way to gather detailed information about users’ needs by enabling them to record information about themselves.


One Hour


Booklets containing questions, disposable camera, pen, postcard



Image courtesy of H. Sustar, PhD thesis, City University London


The user diary should be made up of three main sections:

1. Background information

This helps to compile a short description of the person completing the diary. It could include their name, age, occupation, their likes or dislikes and hobbies that they may have.

2. A diary of service use

A diary of service use is for users to complete over a period of time. Firstly think about what you want to find out. Then write several prompts or questions to help you to build a picture of the user’s service record. For example: What services did you use today?; How long did you spend using them?; Where did you use them, and how did you get there?; Who did you communicate with whilst using it?; How did it make you feel?; What did you enjoy/dislike? and What worked well/not so well?

3. Additional questions and tasks

This is an opportunity to ask specific questions you think are interesting. Be as creative as possible. You could ask users to write a postcard from their favorite place, take pictures of their living space or share an object that has special meaning for them. Once you have gathered your completed diaries, go through them with other members of your team and make a note of everything you think is useful.

Extra Resources

Participants Journals, Engine Service Design, access at

User Diaries, Keeping Connected Design Challenge, access at


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